Keeping it cool

It’s amazing what you find when you’re looking for something else. Recently I was digging around in our garage when I discovered a bag full of neoprene drink holders. You know can coolers, or stubby holders. It was big, and full and hadn’t been seen for years. I used to collect them, and while they did come in handy a few times, we really don’t need them any more. It was funny looking through the bag and reminiscing about the people, events and places they came from. All seemed like a good idea at the time, but sadly now they are just another item waiting to be put in to landfill…

Or are they?

Our koozie (that’s another name) collection sat on the front porch ready for the donation bin for a while. Then one day I decided they must be useful for something. I did an internet search and was actually impressed with some of the suggested uses. One of which I did straight away. Using them around hubby’s shaving cream can to stop rust circles in the bathroom cupboard.

Other ideas I liked for them were:

  • Holding hot items in the kitchen
  • Holding cold things like icy poles
  • Ripening avocados overnight… I know, right!
  • Storing breakables

Some questionable uses included:

  • Making Christmas ornaments
  • Cutting them into bike gloves
  • A vase or table centrepiece
  • Frame them for decoration
  • Cutting them up into small pieces and using as pillow stuffing
  • Protection for dog paws. Yep there’s even a video!

Then I started trying to find information about recycling them, but it appears there’s not much happening in Australia. Rip curl were doing a lot back in 2010 including developing a foundation to help environmental initiatives. I read they were using more sustainable products for their clothing and apparently turning old wetsuits into shoes. I haven’t been able to find much about what they are doing now though. There really isn’t anything on their website at all. In fact they’ve now earned the ‘Don’t Buy‘ label on the rankabrand.org website because of their lack of transparency about sustainability.

There is a little bit happening overseas in regard to recycling like at Lava Rubber. They make yoga mats and coasters out of neoprene in the USA. There is also an amazing new initiative in the UK between Finisterre in partnership with Exeter University’s centre of excellence for Materials Reengineering. They are hiring a Wetsuit Recycler to support the brand’s commitment to innovation and sustainability. As it says in the article, ‘it’s success is not guaranteed’ but it really has been a long time coming. So there is hope for proper wetsuit recycling options, eventually.

During my search for recycling options I also stumbled across information about tyre recycling, which is another interesting problem. I know some scientists are working on making biofuel out of them. Just search for tyres into biofuel and there is lots of information, or start with this. Such amazing things can be done.

Back to dealing with neoprene. I was pleasantly surprised to read about surf brands developing wetsuits out of renewable materials. So called ‘green wetsuits’, but of course they’re incredibly expensive and still in the development phase. They have been in development for many years. It seems a difficult and expensive process.

It really is a whole area I had never really thought about. I mean do you know what neoprene is made out of? Wikipedia says that Neoprene or polychloroprene is a family of synthetic rubbers that are produced by polymerization of chloroprene.[1] It was invented by DuPont in the 1930s and is really hardy. There are more scientific explanations but I didn’t think they were necessary. It also has more uses than I had ever imagined.

This includes the lining of landfill sites. Yep, you may have read this in the article about green wetsuits, but here’s another article I found actually stating that it would be used for this purpose. I know, that’s another area I had never thought about. Landfill lining. There are companies that specialise in it. It seems PVC plastic is often used now to minimise contamination of the land below and above if need be. Eh, it gets depressing the more you dig around.

After starting off with a bag of promotional goods and ending up thinking about the lining of landfill sites, I have certainly learnt a lot from our stubby holder collection. I don’t call myself Eco Fun Mum for no reason though. I’m bringing this lesson back to me and my family. To a way we can use this knowledge and make something fun out of it. Well maybe not out of the knowledge, but out of the koozies anyway.

So we’ve started making icy pole holders out of them. Just in time for summer. Now I can’t really sew. I can very poorly sew on a button or darn a sock, but more than that and I’m out of my depth. Mr.7 has spent an hour at school learning to sew and thinks he’s an expert. So between us we have been cutting and stitching together neoprene to make holders the perfect size for our reusable icy poles. They are actually handy to keep hands warm and also to bend them into when the ice needs pushing up.

I mean the pile of holey socks can wait, and it’s much more fun creating new things. The plan, well Mr.7’s plan, is to sell them for $100 each. “We’ll be rich mum,” he thinks. I suggested with give them to our friends as Christmas presents. I mean who doesn’t love a home made gift!? So far we’ve only really made enough for ourselves, and the stitching isn’t great, but it’s a way for us both to improve our sewing skills. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally finish that dog coat I started about eight years ago too!?

We’re also helping to stop a small amount of stuff being sent to landfill. Well for the meantime anyway, and they’re a great talking point as to how they came about. Who knows what learning the next bag of goodies hiding in our garage will bring? I’m sure it’ll lead us somewhere we didn’t expect.

I’d love to hear any other uses you may have for our stubby holder collection.

Advertisements

A break from routine

Spring has finally sprung here and the garden is enjoying all the rain it brings. Me, not so much. Mostly because picking up children from kindergarten or school in the rain isn’t fun. I wish it would stop, just for the 30 minutes I need to walk the few streets between the two, then start again when we get home. I am excited to see my raspberry canes sprouting and my Vietnamese mint, that I thought had died, thriving, and even my coriander is still growing. Flowers are blooming and in between rain showers we are spending more time outside.

Speaking of rain, as I write this it is spitting outside. I can hear the cars nearby driving through the wet, and the drizzle is sprinkling on the window. It’s not enough to stop the gardener mowing the neighbours’ lawn, but it is enough to make me glad I am dry and warm inside. I can also see my sons’ trike on the paving getting wet. It reminds me of a German exchange student we once hosted. My mum still calls him number three son. He told us a story about when he was younger and had to keep his bike inside for a while. That if it rained it would get damaged, because the water that fell was affected by the Chornobyl nuclear disaster. I know, crazy to think about right!?

He told us that story in about 1994, but I just looked it up and the disaster happened 31 years ago. As you can imagine, we were horrified and shocked at the time. To think of the implications so far away from the site. We only knew what we had read in the paper, or heard or seen on the news. In fact I have just done an internet search and there are some fascinating images showing the ‘radioactive cloud over Europe’. Eh, it’s so scary to think of the damage this did to our wonderful planet. Of all the disasters that happened before and after this tragedy and those that continue to happen.

Depressing isn’t it!?

Well these thoughts also motivate me and help me to focus on my little family and my own community. I want to teach my children to love our planet, to make informed choices, to be positive and to know that it’s not all doom and gloom. That it can be fun and we can do it together.

This brings me back to my original plan for this post, school holiday fun. Children really are so grounding and I love their honesty and openness. They are also like sponges and thrive on learning new things and opportunities to use their imaginations in different ways.

In the lead up to each school holiday I love planning some special activities and surprises for them. Mostly to keep me sane, and them from fighting constantly. In the past we have made goo from items we found in the cupboard including Metamucil and corn flour. We have made plaster dinosaurs using silicone cake moulds and painted them, more than once. We always have a few playdates and love catching up with their cousins. In fact often the first day of holidays we can be found ‘spreading out’ all over the house.

These holidays we have some tomato seeds waiting to sprout that we hope to plant. They should be ready to enjoy in summer. I have some beeswax, given to us by a friend, so we can make some food wraps. I’ll let you know how we go with them. It’ll be trial and error. I also like to make sure the boys have some new art and craft to enjoy when they’re feeling creative. In fact I was recently contacted by Education.com who enjoyed one of my blog posts. They wanted to know if I’d like a worksheet to give to my readers. I had a quick look at the site and found a lot of others that my boys will enjoy. In fact I’m going to make each one of them a little workbook with activities suitable for their ages and interests.

I chose a creepy crawly themed crossword puzzle which you can print out or work through, just click on the link. I thought it was simple enough to talk young children through and for bigger children to complete. The clues even teach them a little about each critter and it comes with answers. Maybe you can find some of them in your garden?

No doubt these holidays we will spend lots of time in our garden having mini adventures. We’ll be playing basketball with our second hand ring, chasing our neighbours’ dog that we are minding, and making potions out of anything we can find. Sure, the boys will fight, I’ll get sick of them constantly wanting to eat and the house will be messy, but most of the time we’ll have fun breaking from routine.

Here are separate links
Crossword Puzzle
Answers

The printable crossword from Education.com is one of many fun and educational resources for children. You can even make your own. Practice spelling with cute crawling critters!

Use it or lose it

When I started on my commitment to live a more sustainable lifestyle I really didn’t know where it would lead me. I started making changes right away and reading about what others were doing. I discovered a community of zero wasters, one of ‘new age’ mums, lovers of essential oils and those who only eat organic. Slowing down seemed to be a common thread amongst their choices, low tox and decluttering were also areas I just hadn’t really thought about. All of the information and ideas were great and inspiring but not always practical in my family’s life.

I am loving exploring different shops and markets and websites that offer alternatives to the options I am used to. It’s been wonderful getting ideas from other likeminded friends and through my Facebook page or Instagram. Vegan recipes, homemade fabric softener, uses for coconut oil to name a few. Another thing I am enjoying is rediscovering what we already have. Who would have thought what we needed was right under our nose?

Looking for ways to change our way of life has brought me to discover all sorts of goodies we have filling our cupboards. Lovely and warm woollen vests that I’ve started wearing again, multiple tubs of body scrub that work great to clean marks off walls, fantastic tea pots and strainers that are finally getting used. I’ve even started using loose leaf tea in a tin, which means less waste too. Baking trays I had stored away are now back in our kitchen and beautiful soaps I had been given over the years are being enjoyed by the whole family. Why did I keep buying liquid hand soap instead? Habit, I guess. Why did I think the boys needed new lunch boxes when we had perfectly good ones they are happy to use? Yes they are plastic, but we already have them. No need to replace them, yet.

I was trawling websites trying to find affordable child friendly hankerchiefs when we had a pile of plain ones at home. Two out of three of the boys are happy to use them and they’ve proven handy for things other than just blowing noses. Now I get why my Dad never left home without one.

Brand new paring knives that were tucked away in a draw. The two big boys are almost past the safety knives  and have started using these with supervision. It’s also great that they like being helpers in the kitchen with their ‘special’ knives.

We’re using up the sample toothpaste tubes and mini dental flosses given to us over the years. I also found a great collection of samples of face and body creams that I’m working through. Why didn’t I use them up when I brought them home? I don’t know. Why did I accept them at all? I guess I thought it was a bonus to get something for free. If only I’d known then how many years they would take up space in my home.

All over our home in fact I have found so many things we don’t need and won’t use. Platters and salad bowls, hand me down books, summer tops held on to for waaaay too long, shopping bags, a baby gate, old linen and towels. I discovered two new cupcake trays I bought cheap on a shopping trip and for some reason stashed away. We use them all the time now.

While I do love exploring and bringing home more Eco friendly choices, I know there really is no need for too much stuff, whether it’s  better for the environment or not.

It’s continuing to prove a cleansing process reusing or removing items from our home. I’ve never been very good at letting stuff go, but I now have a much better understanding of the benefits of it. It’s such a good feeling seeing space where clutter was before, and finding renewed love for some tucked away things. Finally admitting I’ll never wear something again, or rediscovering clothing that brings new joy to my wardrobe. While it takes time and energy, it seems to give it back too. Just because it’s a slow process doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. After all, it’s not about the destination, it’s all about the journey. 

When Opportunity Knocks

About a month ago I finally found a few child free hours and took myself on a trip to some local Op Shops. A friend had suggested we go together. She was busy, but gave me an idea of where I should head. 

Ok so I’ve been to many second hand stores but usually for specific items, not just to browse. It felt a bit luxurious actually, not cramming in as many tasks as I could during my Tuesday morning freedom. 

I really enjoyed perusing all the pre-loved items still available to be re-homed. So much history. So much variety. Of course these stores wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the volunteers that run them. The generous people that sort the bags and bags of donated stuff. The wonderful women and men that lay the stores out so that someone’s trash really can become someone else’s treasure. 

I had a great morning trawling each store. Checking out the shoes, belts, books and toys. The jars, hats, watches and scarves. I travelled from one store to the next, curious as to how each store differed from the last. The loveliest part was the greeting I received at each one. They really are a wonderful initiative and not only do they save tonnes and tonnes of landfill, they raise money for charities that help people and animals in need. 

On this trip I picked up a great jacket for $16 and have since received a few compliments about it. I already felt good about my purchase, and every comment about it has offered me an opportunity to talk about where it came from. I found a great selection of jars, ready for my slow transition to glass kitchen storage, and even got some ideas for using things at home.

Since then I’ve been to many more second hand stores, getting ideas and knowing which ones I would like to revisit with more specific things in mind. It has also made me think so much more about the purchases I make. About what I really need and generally about stuff, how much we all have, what we don’t need and where discarded items end up. Lots of the items donated were only designed for single use, like football scarves or mugs with the year on them. It really is everyone’s responsibility to think about the long term impact of goods. Once an item is no longer needed, it has to go somewhere.

I nearly bought a single serve coffee plunger that I’ve wanted for a while. But then I thought, the two cup one I’ve been using is fine. I tried on another jacket, but then remembered I had just bought a new one. I found a sketch pad for Mr. 5, but I stopped myself from buying it when I thought about all the other art and craft books he has. If I still decide to buy them I can always go back. Who knows what new treasures they may have on show? It’s crazy to think that a short shopping trip has had such a big impact on my buying habits. I guess it wasn’t really the trip itself, just being more concious of the wider impact each purchase has.

This brings me to my next gem about opportunity. I guess you could call it paying it forward. We recently gave our double pram, complete with woollen seat covers, to the daughter of my mums neighbour. Her and I were friends as children but haven’t seen each other in more than 15 years. She is expecting her second child and I was excited I could pass on our much loved pram to someone who needed it. I didn’t ask anything for it, just dropped it off to her mums and showed her how to fold it up. I was sad to see it go, but glad it could keep on rolling. 

A little while later I got a thank you card, which was a nice surprise but totally unnecessary. Then I found out that her mum had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. So on top of being pregnant and having a toddler she was now helping her mum fight a terrible illness. Such a stressful and devestating situation. This news just cemented my decision to pass on what we no longer needed. I am so pleased that I was able to help her, just a little, while she goes through this tough time. How good does helping others feel!? Especially when you expect nothing in return.

Then, would you believe this past weekend I actually received a good deed of my own. A few weeks ago I asked our neighbours if they would be interested in selling us their disused basketball ring. I could see it was taking up space in their carport and I am on a mission to find the most Eco friendly options with whatever I can. From saving something from landfill to minimising car travel and pollution, it seemed to tick a lot of boxes. I just had to build up the courage to ask them, which I finally did one Saturday morning. This journey has made me jump at opportunities I would previously have thought were too hard. I know I would have just found a ring on eBay, or bought a new one, because that way was easier.

So, on Saturday afternoon they rolled it ackwardly down the hill to our house. Mr. 5 and my hubby went and helped as they wiggled it up the step and into our garden. We tried to hand them the money but they insisted they didn’t want anything for it. They were so glad to know it would be used again and that our boys could benefit from it, just like their children had. Not only did we receive a wonderful gift from me taking a small leap to ask them, we now also know our neighbours better. We have saved it from likely landfill, saved travel, pollution, time and energy. It sounds a bit silly that I wouldn’t have done it before, but thankfully that was then.

The next day we spent hours shooting hoops and every day since. I am so glad I knocked on their door and took the opportunity to re-home a perfectly good item. I can already see an improvement in Mr. 7s shooting skills. It has also boosted my confidence to continue our Eco friendly journey. 

So much more to come.

Feeling connected

Things have been pretty busy in our family lately. Usually I would say that busyness is bad and suggest we slow down, but it’s actually been kind of wonderful. Don’t get me wrong, we still have down time. In fact when we do stop, relax and reflect, we realise how worthwhile the current busyness in our lives is.

Recently I took on the role of basketball coach for my sons year one team. I am a total novice when it comes to the game and have never coached a team before, so it’s been a steep learning curve. It has also been a great way to connect with the boys in the team and their parents. It’s heart warming to watch them play and improve each week. To experience the joy of each goal scored. To learn with them and with their parents, all wanting the best for their children. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to help them flourish and have fun with their friends. I am also learning a lot about a game that was never on my radar. Bonus.

My two eldest boys have decided to start junior football, known as Auskick. I have never pushed them, as I wanted to avoid locking in Saturday sport for as long as I could. I know once it starts, there goes our weekends. With Mr. 5’s eagerness I organised a trial. After the first few minutes they were both hooked, and so was I. What a wonderful way to connect with my boys and their friends. To chat to other parents and get to know local families. Rather than loathe the boys dragging me to the oval on a Saturday morning, I look forward it. We walk down hand-in-hand with our Cats guernseys on, excited about our Saturday morning footy. What a fabulous surprise.

I recently got involved with an event at our local school. Rather than just turning up for my shift, I really enjoyed connecting with people involved in the event. I even enjoyed helping and getting to know other locals who attended. I learnt some local history and snippets about other local facilities. Initially I looked at volunteering as an opportunity to help my sons school. To tick the box. But it ended up helping me to meet some wonderful and interesting people. How great is that!

Then this past weekend we had our family’s final birthday party for the year. This time it was for my eldest son and was quite different to the one a few weeks ago. He wanted it at a big commercial venue with bowling and arcade games. They supplied everything from food to party bags. Not very Eco friendly, but a wonderful place for a group of seven year olds to have some fun. And fun they had. Apart from a small puck-in-the head incident between brothers it was a great day. The boys had a ball and I loved getting to know his friends a little better. We came home afterwards buzzing with excitement and I was running through each of my sons friends with him. I mentioned one, he’s such a lovely boy, then another, he’s so cheeky but a real sweetheart, then another, it was lovely the way he shared. My son has such a great group of friends and I loved getting a small snippet into their lives through the party. We chatted about bed times, Pokemon and basketball. I helped them process their tickets and enjoyed seeing them all interact outside of school. I had a fun time too, albeit exhausting. It really was a joyous and connecting experience. My children and my family have made new friends, better friends, and irreplaceable memories because of it. So much more than we ever expected.

I have thought a lot about this post. I am in a great place at the moment and am happy to connect with the world around me. I want to celebrate how important it is to grow and change through connections. Ecofunmum was a big leap for me. I have opened myself up and begun a new journey. I didn’t really know how it would develop but I do know there is no turning back. I continue to make positive changes in my family’s lives, and am so thankful that others are making changes too. We can all connect and motivate each other to do better. Better for all our families and better for our planet.

Not long ago I was in a very different place. One where I couldn’t easily connect with others. In fact I would say I actively sought ways to disconnect. I would try to put myself out there, but loose confidence quickly. I wasn’t open to help, I wasn’t open to much at all, and it pains me to think about the opportunities I have lost. I try not to dwell on the dark time I had between Mr. 5 and Mr. 2. The loss of two pregnancies was more devestating than I could have ever imagined. I may have appeared ok on the outside, but inside I was in pain. It is very hard to be happy when you’re so unhappy, if that makes sense.

Thankfully I found a spark and took the leap to accept that I am a fun mum. That I can be more Eco friendly, and that I don’t want to go on this journey alone. Enough of being alone. It’s time to connect; with my family, my community, my planet.

Hopefully we can get a win or two in basketball as well.

Funnily enough I found it hard to connect the words in this post. There are so many areas of my life that are filling with inspiration. I hope you are connecting with other likeminded Ecofun people who bring you joy too.

“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier,” according to Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. Read more here.

Party time

This past weekend was Mr. 4’s birthday and party. Last year any celebration we tried to have was clouded in sadness after my fathers death. I even baked Mr. 4’s birthday cake on the night of my fathers funeral. So this year I felt it important that we made it all about him, and the excitement of turning five.

First step was to find an Eco friendly party option that suited him and his friends. It wasn’t long before I had narrowed it down to two, with the community centre with the big sandpit winning out. It’s a great place you can hire for a few hours each weekend. Not only do you hire the space though, you get the kitchen fully stocked with all the plates, cups, jugs, platters, trays and more your could possible need. Of course it has an oven, fridge, microwave, urn and everything to help you self cater. There is also a wonderful collection of costumes, cars and ramps, books, dolls and prams, fun pillows, and a great outdoor playground and space to climb all over and run about in.

The next step was invites. On my mission to use what we have I found two packets of colourful unopened invites in the cupboard. We used these and stuck small Pokemon pictures cut out of a book on each one, just to keep it in theme. Mr. 4 hand wrote each invitees name which was great fun for him and a good chance for him to practice his writing.

The menu was actually pretty easy too. My mum makes amazing sausage rolls so they were a must. Mr. 4 asked for sushi, which he helped to make, honey joys, which he also helped to make, and rainbow jelly. I used old jam jars to layer jelly in, making a new colour each day. All the children loved them and they produced minimal waste. I made some mini pizzas and fairy bread, and a big platter of fruit and vegetables. Oh and we did have some salted corn chips and salsa for a snack.

Birthday cakes are something we focus on each year, spending hours deciding what to have. This year the choice was a pikachu cake and I had found a suitable design online to follow. Then my gorgeous neighbour offered to make pikachu cupcakes for us. I must admit I thought she was joking at first. She wasn’t. The amazing cakes ended up being such a highlight and delicious to boot. As a bonus I had recently picked up a brand new, unopened cup cake stand in hard rubbish which turned out to be perfect to put them on.

I used a starry bed sheet as a table cloth, some balloons left over from a previous party as decorations and some cute pikachu print outs stuck on the walls with blue tac. Hubby and the boys had fun placing these around the room.

Mr. 4 insisted on a colouring-in table. This ended up being two tables and a wonderful way for children, especially shy ones, to get into the party at the start. A few Pokemon print outs and a box of textas from home was all that was needed.

We organised some games to play including pass-the-parcel. I used the pretty paper from our ‘Who gives a Crap’ toilet paper to wrap each layer, which included some tattoos, a chocolate bunny and small dinosaur. These too were things I had picked up in my past shopping travels and had not used.

We played one other game but the children were more than happy to enjoy everything on hand and to play with each other. The food all went, and with only water in reusable jugs to drink there were no sticky spillages or bottles to recycle.

Mr. 4 and I also made a knock-’em-down game with a few painted tin cans and a painted pokeball. It was a fun activity to play at the party. We brought the cans home and will now fill them with plants once we attach them to a post. They will certainly brighten up our garden.

I think it’s really nice to leave a party with something special. I know some people see it as unnecessary but my children love getting sometime to take home. I also saw it as an opportunity to encourage people to think about packaging and unnecessary waste. Each child was given a colourful reusable icy pole tube upon leaving. We filled them with a small handful of lollies, mostly left over from the cakes, a sticker and a small Pokemon toy. I even had a few parents comment about how good an idea it was.

We did have to clean up afterwards. My wonderful Mum and nieces helped with the pile of dishes. Hubby and the boys tidied up outside. A big vac of the industrial strength carpet, mop and we were on our way.

We had to take our rubbish home, which was even more incentive to create less in the first place. Ours was very minimal, about one supermarket shopping bag full, and most of it was half eaten food and a couple of coffee cups from the cafe across the road.

I am really pleased with our efforts but I know we can do better next time. Being conscious and aware of our environmental impact is the first step. Trying to appease everyone is part of it, but with happy children, parents and a very content birthday boy makes it all worthwhile.

Mr. 4 also got some gorgeous presents, but the waste from some of them was on another level. Mr. 6 made lots of comments as we opened them about how much plastic there was. I try to give gifts to others that offer minimal waste in the hope that this will rub off on them. I think I’ll need to up my game with my own choices and with communicating the importance of this to friends in future.

So Mr. 4 is now Mr. 5 and has some wonderful memories shared with his friends. I wonder how he will celebrate next year?

Such a fun way to celebrate turning five.

Scrambled egg

I’ve been doing a lot of research on natural hair and body options as I move to more Eco friendly products. I’ve made the hair leap once before with a store bought product and it wasn’t pretty. It turns out I may not have done it for long enough, but two weeks of flat, oily hair was enough. I’ve also tried organic eye cream before. This ended with me getting an eye infection. So I guess you could say I didn’t have a great start.

I remembered hearing a long time ago that raw egg is supposed to be great for hair. Just an egg, cracked straight onto your head and rubbed in. Sounds simple enough. Thankfully before I tried this I read up on it. Well of course, if you do this and then add hot water what do you get? Scrambled egg. Yep, little pieces of cooked egg stuck in amongst your hair strands. How hard would that be to remove?

Then of course there’s the eggy smell. Yuck! Not really the smell I was going for. The thought of showering with cold water just to wash with egg doesn’t interest me either. Warm showers and clean hair is something I’m not ready to give up. I probably never will. Phew, thankfully I didn’t try that one.

Turns out there are hundreds of recipes and different natural shampoo concoctions available on the internet. There’s a ‘no poo’ Facebook page and all sorts information from people who have tried and tested their favourite recipe. Of course there’s a small problem with each suggestion. Everyone reacts differently to different products. What works well for one may not work for another. It’s really up to each individual to try for themselves.

So my shampoo and conditioner is almost empty and I’m getting desperate. I am limited due to the highlights in my hair. I let them grow out but needed a pick-me-up last year and loved adding a little lightness to my locks. Perhaps it’s time for me to let them go again? In the meantime I’m about to do some research of my own. Wish me luck.

This isn’t the look I’m going for.

What to doggy do do

Imagine trying to pick up dog poo without plastic bags. It can be messy, it can be awkward and it can be down right embarrassing, but it’s got to be done. On my quest to lesson our footprint on earth I’ve been researching a lot about plastic, our horrible overuse of it, and alternatives currently available. In an ideal world there would be an alternative to everything, but what I have found is they are often impractical. A bit like the current alternatives for picking up dog poo. I’ve used a sample, of a small poo box, but it didn’t quite cut it.

I have been really shocked by how much plastic is in our lives, how heavily we rely on it and how we often don’t question its use. Children’s toys, Tupperware, outdoor furniture, air conditioning units, garden tools, light switches. The list goes on, and on, and on. Just this morning an advert for surprise beanie boos came on the children’s channel. Little toys in a small plastic egg. What is the need to put it in a plastic egg? And what happens to the egg once it’s open? Waste, waste and more waste.

We’ve all seen the numerous videos of sea creatures whose stomachs are filled with plastic bags, the tropical islands inundated with plastic bottles and rubbish, the animals caught in fishing lines or land fill getting fuller and fuller with unnecessary waste. When does it stop? When do we all stand up and say, enough is enough. Why aren’t companies forced to find alternatives to plastic, more sustainable options or biodegradable options? I guess that’s for us to lobby governments to legislate for these changes, or we can just not buy those options. Both are much easier said than done.

So back to the dog poo bags. I already use old bread bags or fruit and veggie bags for picking it up, but I know they don’t break down any time soon. I had heard about biodegradable bags and figured there must be small ones available for this purpose. There are options, but I wanted to know more detail about how and when they break down. What difference would these bags make over my current choice? What other bags can I replace like bin liners and snap lock bags? Well it turns out, of course, it’s not so simple.

In brief, bio bags will only break down if they are composted in a proper home compost or a commercial composting facility. There are some facilities in Australia but they are few and far between. A detailed article about this can be found at 1millionwomen.com.au where I got these details. It focuses on rubbish bags, and the limited Eco friendly options available. So perhaps bio bags isn’t the way to go.

Here are some other ideas I found…

Newspaper or an old coffee cup

Flushable poop bags 

Five different options

Poo trap

Pooper scooper

The next option I’ll consider is flushable poo bags. They are not really practical, but may work sometimes. Who knows what sort of community facility may be able to be set up to deal with this? I found a review about them. Hmmm…

Unfriendly Clutter

In between my search for new ideas about sustainability, and making my own yoghurt, I came across some information about decluttering. I had never really thought of it as an Eco friendly ideology but upon further reading I have learnt that it is.

Our garage is our dumping ground for stuff. We have a double garage, with only one car in it, and another carload worth of stuff. To be fair, most of it is baby stuff that my soon-to-be two year old no longer needs, but it’s still stuff. I’ve been keeping it for hand-me-downs. Which begs the question, how long should you keep stuff for? I mean, who knows when I might need those 11 photo frames I’ve never used? What if I need my ginormous suitcase to travel with one day? Good luck lugging it around! Where do you draw the line?

Well I’m on the journey and the stuff is going. You’ll probably find half of it on my nature strip soon. Lots of it is in good condition but it’s been clogging up our shelves for too long. It’s time for it to go. eBay here we come.

Then I’ll have room for all the extra jars of pickles and jams I hope to make. My husband might be able to find the tools he needs to fix things I’ve been nagging about for years. We might even be able to get to the boxes trapped at the back of the shelves, begging for some air, suffocated by crammed in Christmas decorations and old Lego boxes.

Wish me luck!

The spark

A few weeks before the 2016 federal election I attended the Coral, Coal and Climate Change Forum put on by my local action group, Lighter Footprints. I first heard about it when I was given a flyer at a local market. It was the day before my father died and I had just come home from the hospital to spend a few hours with my family. I was scattered, emotional and exhausted.

I took the flyer home and put it on the fridge amongst the photos, party invites and children’s reward chart. It sat there on our fridge through Dad’s funeral, the birthday parties and weeks of rewards. When the day of the forum arrived I decided about an hour beforehand that I would take some time and go along. I really didn’t know what to expect, except that it would be a learning experience. And that it was.

Walking into the building I passed a few young people dressed in what can only be described as protester costumes. Some were holding signs about coal and others chatted to those entering. The hall itself was full, and let’s just say there weren’t many people my age. Most of the crowd were passionate and vocal baby boomers with a section at the back filled with young people. One of whom I sat down next to. I asked her if it was the first federal election she had voted in. She thought for a minute and said, no second.

While I sat and waited for the speakers to start I noticed a few baby boomers were standing, so offered one my seat. He looked relieved and we swapped places.

The scientists and politicians that spoke were so interesting. Their points of view all varied as did their ability to actually get done what they and their parties wanted to. The night was full of lots of big picture and larger scale debates about coal mining, saving the great barrier reef, renewable energy and the likes. These are all areas I only had limited knowledge in and certainly didn’t have the passion that the baby boomers and younger adults had. There was even a protester ejected. The room really was full of passionate people.

I left feeling a little despondent and flat. I felt like our planet is really doomed if politicians keep making decisions based on party beliefs and not science or the wider community. I also felt like there was little I could do being a stay-at-home-mum with a household full of young children.

I talked about the experience for a few weeks afterwards. After all, it’s much more interesting than nappies and swimming lessons, and it really got me thinking about my vote and it’s impact, or lack thereof, depending on where you live. We are so lucky we are all able to vote in this country, yet how many of us really know the ins and outs of what our vote really means. I also signed up to the local group’s newsletter and thought many times about going along to a meeting. What did I have to add though?

Fast forward to just over a week ago, when this bubbling desire to actually do something kicked in. Why can’t I change my world and the world of my family? What can I actually do to make life better for my children? How can I commit to this change, and potentially bring others along for the journey? That’s how Eco Fun Mum was born. The spark has finally lit my flame and I really feel there is no turning back.

Thankfully my parents already instilled lots of great environmental beliefs in me. Now that I have made this commitment I am amazed every day. There are so many things I hadn’t thought of to help us be friendlier to the earth. What wonderful learning my children will get out of this too.

I am so excited by the input already from those of you that are interested. May we all grow greener together, and share our stories to help inspire others.

Here’s an article I stumbled across last night that sparked more thinking and action today. Why I don’t recommend Recycling Plastic

Below is a photo from the Coral, Coal and Climate Change Forum put on by Lighter Footprints. That’s me in the pink top in the bottom right hand corner. (Photo by Lighter Footprints)

file-4 (5).jpeg

Now to really make some changes in my family’s use of plastic. Hmmm